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Pizza Dough Not Smooth: Here’s What You Need to Do

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Are your pizza dough balls not smooth?

Mixing pizza dough might seem easy on the surface, but it can become an issue for you when your mixed pizza dough is not soft enough.

Here are guiding tips to solve dough smoothness problems in your next pizza dough batch.

Let’s check them out!

Why is my pizza dough not smooth after kneading?

It’s discouraging when you mix a new batch of pizza dough only to find some big problems with how it feels.

It ends up having a texture that isn’t elastic and rigid spots that are falling apart. Here is what to look for right away.

Unsealed Pizza Dough Sealed Pizza Dough Ball

Find Why Your Pizza Dough is not Smooth – The Cause of the Problem

A little investigation will help you figure out what could have gone wrong. Reviewing your recipe and mixing ingredients into your dough are the first pieces of the puzzle you need to solve. 

Learn to be a pizza dough detective!

Check your ingredients:

Aside from what your recipe calls, you might have made a simple mistake if you mismeasured your ingredients.

Even the slightest percentages that are off could be causing pizza dough to have a weird texture and poor dough fermentation. These are the leading root causes:

Check Your Flour

It’s better to use flour that contains high-protein content of 12% or more. Most of the better quality flour will say on the package listed in the nutrient section. 

Problems with your flour will inhibit the right amount of gluten formed, making dough tear apart easily if you try to stretch it. 

You can’t just use any flour to make pizza dough; you’ll need to use flour that helps create gluten, providing the necessary structure to hold your toppings. Caputo Flours is our top choice.

This is the Flour the PROs Use and Recommend

Best for Standard Home Ovens
Antimo Caputo "00" Chefs Flour (Red)

The Chef's flour is a general-purpose, high gluten flour that works well for many recipes. "Tipo 00" refers to how refined the flour is. Chef's Flour is best for those who want to bake in their traditional home oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit! 

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Best for High-Temperature Ovens
Antimo Caputo Pizzeria 00 Flour (Blue)

A flour with elastic, resistant gluten and protein resulting in a long-rise dough. Ideal for classic Neapolitan pizza made in high heat wood fired, gas or electric ovens in high temperatures over 700 degrees F.

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If you used all-purpose flour, chances are, you wouldn’t have a thick crust since there isn’t very much gluten in this flour mixture.

This flour is excellent for thin-crust pizza but terrible for a fluffy crust. You can counter this by adding more flour with higher gluten. Better yet, just next time, use high-protein flour or bread flour with over 12% gluten.  

If you used the wrong flour or some other flour like cake or all-purpose flour, you could add vital wheat gluten to increase your gluten content. However, if you add vital wheat gluten, remember that you also need to add more water to compensate for the hydration percentage.  

For example, you used 500g of cake flour and added 325g of water(65% hydration). To bring the cake flour to higher protein content, you add 50g of vital wheat gluten.

Accordingly, you now have 550g to account for flour, so the total water should now be 357.50g, so you need to add 32.5g of water to your mix.

In the end, you will only end up with more pizza dough, which you can freeze.

To learn more about vital wheat gluten, check our article Vital Wheat Gluten: The Magic Touch for Pizza Dough.

Vital Wheat Gluten in Pizza Dough

Vital Wheat Gluten: The Magic Touch for Pizza Dough

If you’re using gluten-free flour, note that the texture and elasticity will not be the same. Because gluten-free flour is less stretchy than standard pizza flour, it’s vital to press your dough instead of rolling it to expand it out.

To make gluten-free flour more elastic and better texture, you can prove it in the fridge for over 24-48 hours before adding your yeast. This way, you can get stretchy, smooth flour without forming gluten.

Check Your Flour for Lumps

Did you think that flour would always be nice and fluffy? If you use clumpy flour, these need to be broken up with a mixing whisk before you mix it. You’ll have unevenly mixed dough if you don’t break the flour clumps.

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Check Your Water Content

Adding water is essential to the overall hydration of your flour; the ratio can range from 65 to 70% water added. For example, if you have 1000 grams of flour, you must add 650-700 grams of water to reach the desired hydration percentage.

Typically, 65% is considered the average hydration level.

Check Your Yeast

If you find that your dough is not fermenting fast enough or has expired yeast, you can still save your dough. Add more yeast to your dough mixture using the same amount you used in the recipe.

Knead it thoroughly, and it will ferment correctly after that. If you have questions about yeast for pizza dough, check our article Yeast: Here is What You Need to Know

Best Yeast what you need to know image

Yeast: Here is What You Need to Know

Did You Add Some Oil to Your Homemade Pizza Dough?

Adding oil to your mixture helps with the smoothness, but the oil can’t be more than 5% of your flour ratio.

Oil is added to all hydrated dough and helps lubricate your dough, further adding smoother flexibility and plasticity.

The rest of the smoothness comes from proper fermentation. If you have any questions about oil in pizza dough, check our article Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Oil in Pizza Dough

Oil in Pizza Dough

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Oil in Pizza Dough

Check your Mixing Process

Get a good mix during hydration. Once you mix all of your ingredients, you’ll notice how the mixture will be harder to mix.

This process is the most crucial part of mixing that will prepare you for kneading. Scrape out all partially mixed dough onto a silicone mat or a lighted floured surface so you can knead it by hand or knead in a stand mixer, always with the dough hook, to avoid the dough from tearing.

After mixing, let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

If you have already allowed your dough to proof for an hour to 90 minutes and it still isn’t soft enough, let it rest for 30-45 minutes in a warm spot.

This process can allow further fermentation and more gluten to form. As a result, you will have a softer dough. 

Check the Kneading Process

The importance of kneading cannot be stressed enough in the initial stage of kneading your dough after its first mix. If you missed all of the other steps, such as breaking up clumps or adding water and oil, you might end up with poorly-made dough.

But that’s not the only cause.

Kneading by Hand vs. Kneading with a Stand Mixer

Some pizza experts will not admit that hand kneading is an excellent method because they are experienced.

But you can’t beat a decent stand mixer if you’re unsure of mixing pizza dough. A mixer will create the best results because the dough has less chance of under-mixing mistakes caused by being mixed by hand.

Check the Gluten Development 

Gluten will start to form with the introduction of water and flour mixed, which are particular proteins that take time to develop and add incredible flavor to your dough mixture.

Without proper gluten formation, you’ll have pizza dough that tastes bitter and not very appealing.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a complex combination of proteins found naturally occurring in flour mixed with water. It’s a chemical reaction that can happen with or without yeast and creates special bonded proteins to form within the dough and have the ability to become elastic and stretchy.

gluten web

Why is gluten vital for smooth pizza dough?

Gluten is the overall texture of your dough, but it creates smoother dough when fermentation gives incredible fluffiness.

You can allow water and flour to proof without yeast, but this will take a whole day. Most people don’t like waiting long to eat a pizza at night.

Checking Dough Management

The mixed dough goes through a metamorphosis of sorts but, more importantly, the fermentation within the dough itself.

When the dough is proofed, it will have had enough time to form gluten and rising dough caused by microscopic gas pockets. These are created from the yeast developing inside the dough.

 Find a warm fermentation area.

The well-mixed dough will be proof faster when put into a warmer part of your kitchen. Colder kitchens yield poor results and take longer for a smooth dough to rise.

You can set the dough inside the oven when turned off or use the “Proof” mode of your oven if it has one.

Your towel covering the bowl should be slightly damp to aid in humidity and make your dough rise faster.

Proofed pizza dough will not be overly springy and leaves a slight dent when you poke it with your finger. You can do this test, but the real test is stretching a small piece between your fingers.

If it creates a thin bubble gum-like film called the windowpane test, your dough is smooth enough.

Check your Kneading Process

Mixing dough with your hands is essential to learning how to make great smooth pizza dough. There can be times when you don’t have access to a stand mixer, so using your hands is a real virtue.

This process also gives you personal contact with your dough to get a thorough mix.

How to properly knead pizza dough with a stand mixer

If you have a stand mixer, always use the dough hook attachment with your stand mixer for the best results.

Dough hooks are not like regular liquid mixers and will shred your mixed dough into small pieces as it blends further into pizza dough.

We always recommend a sound stand mixer since it will have the proper distance between the bowl and each mixing hook.

Here’s What the PROS at Homemadepizzapro.com Use and Recommend

Best Stand Mixer for PROs
Kitchenaid Professional 600 Stand Mixer

This stand mixer has a 575 watt motor with 10-speed control. The 6-quart polished stainless steel wide-mouth bowl has a contoured steel handle for easy moving. Includes a burnished power-knead spiral dough hook, flat beater, and wire whip, which move in a 67 point planetary mixing action for more even mixing.

The KitchenAid Professional 600 series (KP26M1P) stand mixer delivers power, versatility, and reliable performance to make this the #1 choice for the kitchen.

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How to properly knead pizza dough by hand

You can use the lower portion of your palms to get a good amount of force to push the dough together at first.

This process will take longer if you do this by hand, but you will immediately feel the uneven lumps within your dough lump as you squash it out.

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If you still don’t have a smooth pizza dough that is soft enough, start to knead it further for another 8 to 10 minutes.

This process will break up any gluten that isn’t rising with your dough mixture. Roll this into a ball and put it into a covered bowl until it rises again.

The Last Slice

Although it can be frustrating to make smooth pizza dough, these elements come down to temperature, mixing ratios, and mixing methods.

Our best effort is to help you understand how you can fix little problems like these on the fly, and this will give you the correct info to fix these problems as they appear.

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